Feedback Made Easier

 In Blog

I made things awkward once trying to say something nice to James Bond actor Daniel Craig. It was many years ago, but my friends still crack up at the story.

At the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, we wandered into a premiere for Layer Cake, and the then-unknown lead actor, Mr. Craig, was in the theatre.

The film was great. After Q&A, we began filing out, and I realized that we were going to walk right past Mr. Craig. I thought he would appreciate a compliment, and I had only seconds to think of something to say.

I approached and said, “Excellent work. Very believable.” But Mr. Craig’s face expressed, “Why are you talking to me? Move along,” with a grumbled, “Thank you.”

Daniel Craig seems like a great guy in interviews. I think I made it uncomfortable stepping up to him in a crowded theatre where the unspoken rule is to give celebs space.

However, I steadfastly maintain that it was my compliment that gave Mr. Craig the confidence to play 007 so successfully.

Feedback is tough. Managers are often too time-starved to give feedback well or at all. When we receive feedback, many of us are unsure of how to receive it graciously.

In our work as coaches, we have found three key elements of good feedback.

  • Clear: Helping the recipient understand the issue is often more difficult than it seems. “Good job today” is a great example of unclear feedback.
  • Precise: Good feedback is detailed and focused on a specific action or behavior.
  • Concise: Wordy, meandering feedback is not clear or precise, and it wastes time when everyone is busy. 
  • Setting: A 60-second hallway conversation has a certain meaning, while a 5-minute office meeting carries a different meaning. A fanboy lummox trying to converse with a movie star on the red carpet is another thing.

A helpful template for delivering good feedback can be found in the 2014 book The Feedback Imperative: How To Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success by Anna Carroll, which includes the C-O-I-N structure used by many Fortune 500 companies.

Giving Feedback:

C-O-I-N stands for Context, Observation, Impact, and Next Steps.

Here is an example of positive feedback using the C-O-I-N framework:

C = Context 

“I was listening to your Thursday podcast, and you both commented on the AT&T mobile service outages in the news.”

O = Observation

“Great job being topical, and when you began arguing comically about how one of you ignores texts from the other, the outraged accusations and implausible denial interaction made me laugh out loud.”

I = Impact

“You took a generic topic that any show could have delivered rote from show prep, but you delivered it authentically, making it your own from your unique characters in a way that no other show could have done.  Your real-life point of view and sense of humor will create more loyal listeners.”

N = Next Steps “How could you steer future segments towards content that spurs more of that kind of memorable interaction?”

Receiving Feedback:

Use the C-O-I-N structure to make the conversation more effective for you.

C = Context

“Can you give me details on when and where this happened?”

O = Observation

“What did you notice was going on?”

I = Impact

“Help me understand why this is important and what the effect is”

N = Next Steps

“What are your suggestions for handling this situation in the future?

If you read these examples out loud, they time out to less than 60 seconds of message delivery – which leaves more time for the other person to engage and talk through the problem. Engagement is the most important part of feedback.

A good feedback conversation is planned, with words chosen carefully and often rehearsed. Then, you improvise through the discussion with empathy and listening skills – much like a great on-air segment.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

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